[NAFEX] growing melons over black plastic [SEC=UNCLASSIFIED]
Karl.Adamson at apvma.gov.au
Wed Jun 10 20:59:38 EDT 2009
I'll tell you about how I grow melons in zone 7.
But firstly I must say that chilled or frozen watermelon on a 100F day
in the height of summer is a delicacy. In the cool of late Autumn
(which is when my home grown ones finally ripen) they are not my first
pick for a fruit and so I don't grow them very often.
Cantaloupes/Rockmelons (I grow primarily HaaOgen) are much faster and I
can be picking them while there is still enough warmth in summer to make
them wonderful. As an aside you might also try growing pepino if you
are desperate for that rockmelon taste.
To prepare a planting site I dig a hole and, over the winter, I put my
kitchen scraps into this hole (with a bit of lime to stop things getting
too sour). When one hole fills I start another one and cover the old
hole with soil. This really doesn't start heating up and composting
until spring starts and it keeps the mice out of it all.
In early spring I create a mound of compost and manure that is
sufficient for a planting hole about 6-12 inches deep. I place a halved
piece of pvc downpipe to keep the sides of the hole steady and then
place a square of glass over this hole to create a minigreenhouse.
The heat from the kitchen scraps and the glass really help the seedlings
get started and ward off any frosts. As the spring warms up properly I
remove the glass and as the seedlings grow up and out of the hole I
remove the pipe and fill in the hole to encourage more roots to set. As
they grow down the mound I also trench or pile soil over the stems to
help roots set. I also pinch out the tips to encourage more branching
once they start going crazy. They need lots of water!
I don't use black plastic. But my feeling is that it could only help.
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